Diary of a painting – Jai Llewellyn

Diary of a painting

Acid House Party Disco

‘Acid House Party Disco’
Oil on found wooden box, 50x35cm
December 23, 2017- March 20, 2017

The support for this painting had obviously enjoyed some life before I found on the way to a Jim Lambie show at the Modern Institute, in Glasgow, propped up against a lamppost. It caught my eye, I could see it had a hand made pine frame topped with a sheet of ply. It was pretty crudely put together with screws sticking out in the wrong places and the ply was badly cut. On the underside there was some childish graffiti, doodles and choice phrases such as, Acid house party disco, from where I took the title. I picked it up and fell in love with it immediately, I felt that it has some life in it. That will be a painting one-day, I said to Gill.

The Lambie show was ok, some interesting painted iron grids and pastel coloured washing machines. I found a nice book of Matt Connors paintings but the whole time I was thinking about the box and what it might become.

It was an odd size for me, more of a landscape format than I usually go for, I knew it would give me a bit of a headache. This proved to be the case, it took me a relatively long time to arrive at the finished composition. Before I could start to think about painting I had to fix it up a bit. I took out the dodgy screws, planed and sanded the ply and lightly skimmed the whole surface with a household filler. Once I had fixed and squared up the box I gave it a few coats of gesso. I was beginning to feel a physical connection to it as an object, something that is important in my work.

Progress was slow as I had several other pieces on the go at same time. I would put some washes down, a few marks, some pencil lines, trying to get a feel for the proportions. Early colours were washed out lemon yellows and greys, then teal, blue/green and turquoise. Nothing decisive was happening, it was all surface play and flat. I made a strong vertical divide and decided it was going to be portrait. Despite its length, I wanted to get away from the obvious landscape reference.
After about a month the painting came to some kind of a conclusion with two intersecting L shapes that were tonally very close. There were some things happening that I liked but I felt it was too tight and came too easily. The structure needed to be broken, compromised in some way, it was too polite and didn’t reflect the reality of the desired experience.
I started to use the paint much thicker and with bolder colour choices, intuitively putting anything down. Blocks of true colour in close proximity with edges caressing each other. The whole surface was activated but the colour combinations were confused and chaotic.

I knew it had to change but was content with the stage it was at and thought I could work with it. A week or two of drying time went by before I would work on it again. An off white grid was overlaid which separated the forms and allowed each colour to hold its own space. The resulting composition was slightly irregular and off kilter, colours were highly saturated, Sap Green, Cerulean, Naples yellow, Cadmium red and black, all straight out of the tube. Another week or so of drying…

The final stage of the painting happened very quickly, an hour or two and it was done. I knew I wanted to keep the previous stage visible, to lie beneath but to be disjointed and not quite connected to what lay on top. The paint had to be thin again and every move traceable to keep its vitality, allowing things to happen rather than just being, a tension between the labored and apparent freedom of creation.

Listening to Radio 4 and 6 music

Reading an interview with Thorton Willis
Watching Sean Scully on you tube
Jim Lambie, Modern institute, Glasgow
Joseph Beuys, Modern Art, Edinburgh
Joseph Albers, David Zwirner, London
Terry Frost, Beaux Arts, London
Sandra Blow, Fine Arts Society, London
Kentridge & Koorland, Fruitmarket, Edinburgh

Jai Llewellyn

Wyndham Lewis on art

6. To believe that it is necessary for or conducive to art, to “improve” life, for instance—make architecture, dress, ornament, in “better taste,” is absurd.

7. The Art-instinct is permanently primitive.

8. In a chaos of imperfection, discord, etc., it finds the same stimulus as in Nature.

9. The artist of the modern movement is a savage… this enormous, jangling, journalistic, fairy desert of modern life serves him as Nature did more technically primitive man.

Excerpts taken from BLAST 1, Manifesto – – – II edited by Wyndham Lewis

Simon Leys on Chinese painting

‘The theory of Chinese painting is based on a fundamental distinction between amateurs and professionals: only the art of amateurs is deemed to have true artistic value, as they alone are individual creators, whereas professionals are mere artisans who practise their craft on the same footing as carpenters, potters and other anonymous manual workers. No amount of skill and beauty can redeem the paintings of the professionals and make up for the spiritual deficiency that taints their origins. Technical virtuosity and seductiveness in a painting are considered vulgar, as they precisely suggest the slick fluency of a professional hand answering a client’s commission and betray a lack of inner compulsion on the part of the artist – for the professional works for an external reward whereas the amateur seeks self cultivation; to the professional, painting is only a trade; to the amateur, it is a spiritual discipline. Therefore, it was hardly a paradox if, for instance, a great painter of the Qing period could inscribe on one of his masterpieces the defiant calligraphic statement: ‘What I fear most is that my painting may look competent.’ A certain form of clumsiness was valued by the painters as it clearly established the non-professional character of their work and vouched for the purity of their inspiration.’ ~ Simon Leys

Dairy of a painting – David T Miller

Dairy of a painting
David T Miller

I typically work on multiple pieces at a time. As individual pieces begin to express an identity personalities emerge. While I work I often make up songs in my head about other artists I admire, my dog Sheldon T Miller and dumb stuff in general. While the paintings become real the songs rarely go beyond the space in my head, but sometimes I’ll sing into the voice recorder on my phone and pick up a guitar. If I’m really having fun I might record it. Paintings and songs sometimes happen together. As I paint I try real hard not to think about the paintings I’m making. I tend to work in bursts and I attempt to archive monthly. I don’t use titles. I have a numbering system that works for me. I scan work most of the time because I can’t photograph art to save my life and goodness knows I’ve tried.

On one Tuesday evening, trash day eve in Ambler, PA, I was feeling pretty good about getting my trash and recycle bins on the curb and headed down to my basement to paint. I have some very nice work of some of my favorite artists, but on a shelf above my head where I work is a paint can lid with a chicken painted on it with sequins by one of my favorite people, James Prez. As I worked on what is now SC10(3.17) I had song lines running through my head about how I wish I could make magical art like James Prez. I hummed and sang a twangy little thing like the piece I was working on. I was having such a good time that I picked up a guitar and sang a few spontaneous verses. My painting uses acrylic and flashe paint from Dick Blick, Artist Craftsman Supply and Jerry’s Artarama. The painting is on store-bought 8” x 10”, pre-stretched canvas from Dick Blick. The piece has texture, dots and some little horizontal lines my wife called Frankenstein stitches. That isn’t what I saw, but she tolerates my art and songs so it works for me.

James Prez.mp3

When I’m not humming my own melodies while I paint I like to listen to folks like, Townes Van Zandt, Hayes Carll, Todd Snider, Tom Russell. Terry Allen, Joe Ely, Richard Thompson, Steve Earl, Lyle Lovett, John Prine, Doc Watson, Gram Parsons, Dwight Yoakam, Dale Watson and James McMurtry (to name a few favorites).

I am very inspired by the work of artist friends I’ve made over the years through social media such as facebook and Instagram. I don’t think I could make it through the day without looking and listening.

David T Miller

Diary of a painting – Valerie Brennan 

Diary of a painting

I have a new studio in my home, right in the center of the town. It is a change and it takes time for me to find a rhythm in this new space. I see green and trees around me but all the noises are urban, it is filled with light, quite a change from my previous studio. I want to make something that feels more crafted, handmade, and more vulnerable perhaps.  I chose the burlap for that, it is coarse and wonky. The threads are loose and irregular and when I stretch it over the wood the warp and weft of its weave bend and pull off center. I like its imperfections. It has a character before I touch it. I titled this Superhero because it exceeded my expectations.

Bright Yellow Tempera / Cinnabar Green Light / Venetian Red /Perm. Yellow Light / Emerald Green / Perm. Red Light/ Cadmium Red Medium/ Ultramarine/ Naples Yellow Red /Chrome Green/Lamp Black/ Titanium White

Radiohead, The Bend/ The Killers, Sawdust/Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald / Jimmy Guffrie, Free Fall/ Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, The Boatman’s Call (I plucked a recent title from this, Far From Me)

The bad girl by Mario Vargas Llosa/ Van Gogh’s letters /Embers by Beckett /

Beer with a painter: Tal R on Hyperallergic.

Joanne Greenbaum/Joan Miro, /Joan Synder/ Elizabeth Cummings/ Richard Aldrich,

Valerie Brennan

Diary of a painting – Wendy Saunders 

​Painting Diary

Wendy Saunders
a double painting\\

when I first started painting I always began with a perfectly prepared plain white surface.  Clean, fresh and ready.  Nowadays I plunder old paintings to make new works or prepare new supports with bold coloured ground(s).  Old work underneath works well, adding a push and pull tension and allows for serendipity – a silver lining found in old paint becomes a future foundation.
I didn’t know at the time but eventually the smaller painting comes with a partner work.

Untitled (Post A works)122x122cm plus 60x49cm (attached) oil on canvas x2 2017.
Starting anew with a 2013 portrait-y painting (in landscape) – its ok, but not good enough to keep.

Have ideas to make ‘pumpkin head paintings’ – more about form than expression..

Blocked out the new form in bright oranges, greens, yellows…. what was I thinking..

Not working

Knock it back a bit.  abandon
…Flip the work to portrait and lay out tubes of

Michael Harding Unbleached Titanium White

Old Holland Zinc White

Windsor and Newton Neo Cadmium Red

Old Holland Flesh Tint

Old Holland Mars Black

Michael Harding Vandyke Brown

-a palette partly inspired by recently looking at Rauschenberg paintings

Old Holland Medium
Starting with no particular thought but to erase the bright glaring inept previous surface. begin scrubbing on unbleached titanium white with a favourite stumpy brush. add some greys. soon a form begins to emerge as the paint is pushed and scribbled across the surface. I find myself on home territory – shaping a head of sorts.

Play it out slowly  – without self imposed pressure to make it one way or another.

stay loose.

sees where it leads.

The colour(s) is good?

Is it reflecting how I am feeling? I don’t want to think too closely about this.  Shut out what this painting is looking like because it probably looks like me. Still painful, still too close. a family death.  I am scared that it may look like me.

I leave it alone for now.
Hoist out a lovely big pre stretched/oil primed John Jones stretched canvas that has been waiting for sometime.  I hunt about for something rich to lay over the bright white surface.

Grand thoughts…  make a big painting.

I find an end of tube – Winsor Newton Cadmium Red Deep Hue – a pinkish red. Thin it out and set to with a big brush to get a decent covering of it.  Propping it up on the cupboard out of the way to dry, the sun shines through the window – it lights up the room with its exhilarating saturated colour. its a relief. music plays. a dance at the end of the day.
back at the head painting.

its at a delicate stage.  its roughly made. is its meaning obvious? it doesn’t matter – but I don’t want to lose its intent.

I don’t want to lose its uncertainty. the form is obvious enough. a little grey.  a little black. what now?… wipe it back just a bit..

photograph it and leave it alone.
propping it out of the way against the big pinkish red canvas in the afternoon light  startles me.  over the next few days I keep looking at it. It seems right.  It works well, it works for me. My eyes can’t quite see the head so clearly against the lively pinky-red.
I look at the cross bars on the back of big canvas and figure out how I can fix them together.  It may be an autobiographical piece of work but what isn’t?
music: Barbara Barbara, we face a shining future  – Underworld.  Skeleton Tree & Push the Sky Away Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Chill FM & my Spotify playlist.
reading: Guston by Robert Storr, Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, Master & Commander by Patrick O’Brien, Paintbritain twitter

Wendy Saunders

Diary of a painting – Katrin Mäurich


‘dunkelheit hält alles an sich 2017’, acrylic on wood, 49x51cm,

I painted ‘dunkelheit hält alles an sich 2017’ (49x51cm) in January/February 2017 on beautiful 18mm B-grade birch ply.
I bought a 1,22 x 2,44 m sheet of this last year, cut it up with my jigsaw, sanded the pieces and priming the surfaces with oils or varnish (though sometimes I leave them raw).
This painting has been primed with linseed oil. It is quite a typical painting for me in that it has been build up or constructed over time in a rather oblique fashion – through successive adding and removing of figures, lines, layers of colour and texture. I used pressed pigments (conté, pastels) and acrylic paints. Colours in this painting (as far as I remember): Ivory and Mars Black, Zync and Titanium Whites, Cadmium Yellow, Burnt Umber, Ultramarine, Titan Buff, Raw Sienna, white, brown and black conté (Carrés Esquisse de Conté).
Terry is always very interested in the colours used in the making of paintings and I know that many other painters are too. It is not something I can talk about very well as my approach to colour is entirely intuitive and I do not think about it in an abstract way but rather use it as circumstances suggest. At the beginning of this painting for example I had a rather lovely mixed brown left over from a previous painting and hating waste I used it to tint the birch (which was golden and shimmered in the light – the sanding and oil finish made it into a very seductive, precious object). Then the next thing I did was in response to that brown – I rubbed some of it off again to let the surface ‘breath’ a bit more. That created a vague, smokey atmosphere that was asking for something definite or substantial to contrast with. So I responded with a conté (iron-oxide) line drawing. After some looking and working on other paintings in between, I saw how I could take the next step – there was something interesting going on with two shapes in the centre, a wrapping and surrounding which I liked. Playing around with this took me a few steps further, then it became too rigid and I decided to sand some of the paint back again and do some more looking and turning-away, working on other paintings in the meantime. Often I will find the next step for a painting while I am working on another. In this case it was the Yellow I was using on ‘shanten 2017’ which I was working on nearly concurrently to ‘dunkelheit…’. I could see that the yellow would push this painting on and that worked well – further opportunities opened up in the wake of introducing it which brought me quite close to the finish of the painting. The very final move was to apply a very thick, textured White to the centre. I sat with that for a while and returned to look a couple of times until I was absolutely certain it was finished. Since then, the painting has grown on me more and more. As time passes I can judge my paintings more clearly and appreciate their quality.
I used to give utilitarian titles to my paintings but changed this over the last couple of years or so. They are now more considered and personal. This painting’s title is from a Rilke poem I translated for a close friend during that time:

Oh darkness, whence I came
I love you more than the flame
That so confines the world,
in that it shines
only for some exclusive
beyond that it remains illusive.

Darkness though, holds everything close:
creatures and flames, animals
and me,
How it gathers
humankind and deity
both –

And thus it may be: with great might
Something stirs close to me.
I believe in night.

I believe in that which thus far remains unsaid.
I want to set my pious notions free.
What no one yet dared to desire,Will soon be second nature to me.

(German: http://www.rilke.de/gedichte/das_buch_vom_moenchischen_leben.htm)

During the making of this painting I read and listened to audiobooks of fiction:

^^’I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ by Maya Angelou,

‘Abendland’ by Michael Köhlmeier,

‘A Whole Life’ by Robert Seethaler;

and non-fiction: various articles of political analysis (mostly online), Drift into Failure by Sidney Dekke and some other texts on systems thinking, risk management, incident investigation and clinical governance in general (for my job);

I saw: ‘Moonlight’ by Barry Jenkins,

‘Play me Something’ by Timothy Neat and John Berger,

‘Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000’ by Alain Tanner and John Berger;
Gorky’s ‘The Lower Depths’ at the Arcola Theatre;

^^I took a trip to Scotland and walked along the coast from Cromarty to Rosemarkie.

I was mostly listening to BBC Radio 4 and 3 and Spotify:

Spoon – They Want My Soul
Dutch Uncles – Oh Shudder
DIIV – Is the Is Are
SBTRKT – Wonder Where We Land
The Clientele – Strange Geometry
Cults – Static
Laura Marling – Short Movie
Hamilton Leithauser – Black Hours
Hundred Waters – The Moon Rang Like A Bell
Natalie Prass
Dead Man’s Bones
Julia Holter
Nick Cave
Courtney Barnett
Cass McCombs
Jeff Buckley
Max Richter
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Britten, Berg, Webern, Schubert, Schostakovich, Mozart.

Katrin Mäurich